Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points, 16 rebounds and six assists as the Milwaukee Bucks avoided a third consecutive loss with a 124-117 win over the under-manned Philadelphia 76ers.
Khris Middleton added 24 points, Bobby Portis had 23 and Brook Lopez 16 for the Bucks, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Jrue Holiday had 12 points and 11 assists for the Bucks, who improved to 36-22 on the season.
Milwaukee bolted out to a huge lead, making their first 10 shots of the game. They led by 17 points at the half, 77-60.
The Bucks drained 13 of their first 21 three-point attempts and finished with 20 threes on 40 attempts.
This was billed as a matchup of two top teams of the Eastern Conference, but Philadelphia is going through a rough patch.
They were missing Ben Simmons (illness) and Furkan Korkmaz (ankle) in losing their third straight.
“Philly is a team we might see in the playoffs,” said Antetokounmpo. “Everybody was locked in and came out with energy. It was a good test for us.
“Today was a playoff game for me, another step. We got to stay humble. We have been number one seed in the east, we just came up short the last two years.
“If we go in as the seventh seed or sixth or fifth it doesn’t matter. You got to beat the great teams in order to win a (title).
“If we get the number one seed great. If we don’t, we got to get better.”
Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 24 points. Shake Milton chipped in 20 and Tobias Harris had 18 in his first game back after being out with a sore knee.
The teams will face off again Saturday.
Elsewhere, Luka Doncic scored a team-high 30 points as the Dallas Mavericks rolled to a 115-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, spoiling the return of Anthony Davis.
Lakers star Davis was playing his first contest after missing 30 games with a calf strain. He looked rusty making just two of 12 baskets and finishing with four points.
The reigning NBA champion Lakers were also without superstar LeBron James who hasn’t played since March 20.
Missing their two best players has taken its toll on the Lakers who have struggled lately, suffering wire-to-wire losses to the Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz at home. The team recently said James is likely a couple of weeks away from returning.
PORZINGIS LEAVES GAME
The Mavericks lost Kristaps Porzingis in the third quarter against the Lakers when he sprained his left ankle and went to the dressing room.
He scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds in 29 minutes as he played in games on back-to-back days for only the fourth time this season.
With Davis on the bench, the Lakers erased an 11-point halftime deficit and were within four with three minutes remaining but that is as close as they would get.
Also, Kemba Walker scored 32 points with 11-of-17 shooting from the floor, as the Boston Celtics handed Phoenix a rare defeat, beating the Suns 99-86.
The Celtics improved to 32-27 on the season by winning for the ninth time in their last 11 games. Jayson Tatum had 15 points and 11 rebounds while playing with a sore left ankle.
Boston played without Jaylen Brown (shoulder), Evan Fournier (health and safety) and Robert Williams (knee).
Chris Paul had 22 points with eight rebounds and eight assists to lead the Suns, who lost for just the third time in their last 16 games. Devin Booker had 15 points before fouling out.
Dallas 115, LA Lakers 110
Chicago 108, Charlotte 91
San Antonio 106, Detroit 91
Boston 99, Phoenix 86
Orlando 100, New Orleans 135
Milwaukee 124, Philadelphia 117
© Agence France-Presse